The Real Pros and Cons of Decatur Ga | Living in Decatur, Georgia

Decatur is a small town with a classic town square layout – all of the shops and restaurants surround an open plaza that hosts artists and musicians, dogs and families all year long in Atlanta’s mild climate. The DeKalb County courthouse and municipal buildings are close to the square as well. Dekalb county employees bring a bustling lunch business to the downtown Decatur restaurants.

The neighborhoods around the square are mostly single family homes, with some townhomes and a limited number of apartment rentals.

I love Decatur and have lived within the city of Decatur for almost 25 years now. I think the area is great and that Decatur is one of the most charming areas of Atlanta. I’ve created this video to give you a local’s view of the 5 pros and 5 cons of living in the City of Decatur.




I’m here to give you information that you may not not find out until you live in Decatur. Like I said, I love Decatur, but I’m here to give it to you straight, so let’s start with the CONS.

Con #1

Decatur has a cool downtown, and all of the charm of the downtown comes at a price – It’s Expensive to live in Decatur! You will have a very difficult time finding an updated house for less than $700k.

Decatur is a pretty small geographic area within the Metro Atlanta area, and it is in very high demand, which causes the price of homes within the city limits to be much higher than the Atlanta average.

In July 2020, the median home sale price in Decatur was over $600K. That means that half of the homes sell for more than $600k and half are below $600k. When people start looking at moving to Decatur, most people are shocked at how little $600K will buy. These aren’t Manhattan prices, of course, but they are pretty steep compared to the nearby neighborhoods outside of the city. For example, just outside the city limits of Decatur going towards Emory university, you can find an updated 3/2 ranch with a basement for $400k.

Con #2 is property taxes. Not only are the homes more expensive per square foot, the millage rate is higher than the unincorporated Dekalb County areas around Decatur. City of Decatur property taxes are sometimes double what you would pay on a similar house outside the city limits. To be fair, that is part of the price you pay to have a great public school system. City of Decatur Schools are some of the best in the Atlanta metro area. An average private school in Atlanta costs $700 per month at the low end. So, you really could look at the increased taxes as the value of a great school system. One of my next videos will be comparing home prices and property taxes inside and outside the Decatur city limits. If you are considering moving to the Decatur area and would like this information, click the subscribe button so that you will be notified when that video drops! Also, you can call me if you have any questions about Decatur or if you need help finding a home.

So let’s get to Con #3 – Decatur is somewhat isolated from rest of ATL – when you are getting around Atlanta, you are almost guaranteed to add 20 minutes to your drive if you live in Decatur. Most of Atlanta’s shopping and restaurants are in the midtown, Buckhead and Westside areas. Decatur does have many superior restaurants and lots of cute shops, but if you want fine dining or higher end shopping, you will have a drive.

Also, Decatur is not close to any major highways. Many people do still work in Downtown Atlanta and Decatur is convenient to that, but in Atlanta, large companies are shifting north to midtown/buckhead/and further north like Alpharetta – If you work at Emory, the CDC or CHOA, though, Decatur is very convenient. The Emory campus is exactly 2.5 miles from the Decatur Square via Clairmont Road.


This brings us to Con #4 of living in Decatur – Traffic!

Atlanta traffic in general is some of the worst in the country, and Decatur is no different. Part of the increased drive time to get to and from Decatur is due to the fact that there are few roads into Decatur. The main road that brings you into Decatur, Clairmont Road, can get very congested. It can take about 10 minutes for the 2 1/2 mile drive from downtown Decatur to Emory, and much much more during heavy commute times.

And the Final Con #5 about the City of Decatur – The Parking. If you move to Decatur and buy a single family home or townhome, you won’t have any trouble parking at your home. The main thing that Decatur residents complain about is the limited parking in the downtown commercial area. some businesses have left due to limited parking and problems they say it has caused their business. There limited on street parking – it can be hard to find a convenient spot, and you have to pay. Residents have complained that the minimum parking fee is $3, whether you are staying an hour or stopping for 10 minutes to pick up takeout. There is a large parking deck near the municipal buildings, though, and the charges there are pretty in line with what you would pay throughout Atlanta.

So, I’ve given you a local’s view of 5 Cons of the City of Decatur, so stick around and we will get into the 5 Cons of the City of Decatur.

Pro #1 of the City of the Decatur is that it has some of the most charming houses and neighborhoods anywhere in Atlanta. If you love a Craftsman bungalow or Farmhouse style home, Decatur is the place for you. The local historic preservation committee also ensures that new construction conforms to the surrounding neighborhoods. Just a side note, the permit office can be both a positive and a negative, since Renovations/remodels/builds can be difficult – permitting office is tougher than unincorporated Dekalb.

Pro #2 of the City of Decatur is the Community.

What people love most about Decatur is the community feel. As I mentioned before, if you’ve ever been to Asheville NC or Austin TX, Decatur has that same kind of creative vibe. Decatur is full of excellent farm to table restaurants, music and art festivals and community events sponsored by the city.

Decatur hosts the Decatur Arts Festival in the Spring. It is one of Atlanta’s largest arts festivals, and draws people from all over the city. It’s held on the square and several of the surrounding streets are closed off for 3 days. There are tons of arts and crafts vendors, food tents and trucks, live music on the square and family and kids activities.

In the fall, Decatur hosts the Decatur Book Festival. It’s a large multi-day festival on the square – there are tons of activities for families, and authors from all around the country come to give talks and sign books.

Pro #3 of the City of Decatur is the great selection of independent stores and restaurants.

Like I said earlier, there are tons of great restaurants in Decatur. The Brick Store Pub is a beer lover’s delight, possibly the best selection of beers anywhere in Atlanta. They really set Decatur off in 1997 when they opened. There was literally nothing in Downtown Decatur and then all of the sudden this great community pub opened and everything blossomed form there. It was really quite incredible to witness the rebirth of this city. I lived in nearby Avondale Estates in 1997, and it’s hard to believe now when you see how much Decatur has to offer, but back then there wasn’t much to do on a Friday night before the Brick Store came in!!!

Now, in downtown Decatur, you can eat some of Atlanta’s best tacos at Taqueria del Sol. My wife’s favorite tacos are the fried fish tacos that have spicy creamy sauce and pickled jalapeños – I love the carnitas.  In Decatur, you can sample Indian street food at a restaurant called Chai Patti..

Decatur also has a rich music scene. Eddies Attic is one of Atlanta’s oldest live music venues, right on Decatur square since 1991, they have hosted thousands of great artists like the Indigo Girls, The Black Crowes, Sugarland and John Mayer.

Pro #4 is that the City of Decatur is very walkable. Most of the neighborhoods in Decatur were built in the late 1800’s to the early 20th century, when people walked everywhere. Most neighborhoods have sidewalks and many are walking distance to neighborhood shops and restaurants. The downtown Decatur area is very walkable – once you park you car, you will not need it again for a day of shopping and dining.

One other quick thing to note is that Decatur square sits right on top of the MARTA station. MARTA is Atlanta’s subway system. It’s nice that it’s in Decatur, particularly if you need to get to the airport.

This takes us to the final Pro – #5 – The Schools! The City of Decatur is it’s own independent school system, and it is the best overall in the intown Atlanta area. It is small – there is just one high school, one middle school and 7 elementary schools. The elementary schools have heavily involved parents, high community involvement and excellent test scores. The excellent city schools is an enormous part of why the City of Decatur is such a desirable place to live. There are also several great private schools such as St. Thomas More, The Friends School, a Waldorf School and a Montessori School.

So there you have it – the straight talk about the pros and cons of living in the City of Decatur.

If you’d like more information and insider info about moving to and living in the areas around Emory University, please subscribe and watch my other videos.

You may also like